Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Armenian girl with amazing voice!



Thanks to Maetenloch

If you lose your wallet, make sure you lose it in Helsinki

Researchers did a test of honesty in major cities around the world based on lost wallets.

Sixteen world cities, times twelve wallets. Each wallet containing the equivalent of $50 in local currency, some business cards and family photos, and a mobile phone number. How many wallets are returned?

...First, the good news: none of the cities surveyed brought shame on itself by returning none of the wallets. The bad news: globally, your chances or getting your wallet back are less than half. Of the grand total of 192 wallets sprinkled across malls, parks and sidewalks in those 16 cities, only 90 were returned - not more than 47%.



Thanks to Ace of Spades

Listen for the soft sound of His sandalled feet

Ann Voskamp writes:
Parenting’s this way of bending over in humility to help the scraped child up because you yourself know it takes a lifetime to learn how to walk with Him.

How’s it going? I guess it’s always just about going to Jesus.

I just desperately need the perfect, sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ who can take all my broken messes and make them into mosaics of Grace.

I just desperately need to come to His table of communion so I can celebrate one ridiculously messy life. Because this is how the dictionary defines a celebrant: “The person who stands at the table of Communion is a celebrant.”

The person who lives in communion with Christ is a celebrant! The one keeping company with Jesus is a celebrant — is the one who gets to always celebrate grace!

A celebrant is one who celebrates the extravagant grace of Christ.

A celebrant is the one keeping her eyes on Jesus and His perfect sacrifice — precisely because she isn’t perfect.

Grace lets those whose messes and wounds are many — simply see Jesus and Him only.

It’s the sinners and the sick, the broken, the discouraged, the wounded and burdened — we are the ones who get to celebrate grace!

Christ invites us to celebrate the full life as the celebrants — not because we’ve got it all together, but because He’s finished it all at the Cross!

The Art of Celebrating Life isn’t about getting it all right — but about receiving all His Grace.

Regardless of the mess of your life, if Christ is Lord of your life — then you are the celebrant out dancing in a pouring rain of grace!

When sin threatens to deafen you — listen for the soft sound of His sandalled feet coming to literally hold you away from the lies that threaten to condemn you.

The only thing you require to get His grace — is that you get that you’re a mess.
Thanks Ann. I really needed your words today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Pathologically naive"

That's what one prosecutor said about 19-year-old Coloradan Shannon Maureen Conley. Why? Because she agreed to marry three different people in a matter of months, including a jihadist with the Islamic State. Judge Raymond Moore sentenced her to four years in prison.
Her prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service, in which she has to interact with "ordinary people," Moore said.

He also prohibited her possession of any black powder or explosive materials.

Her attorney
noted that Conley, a convert to Islam, changed her adopted Muslim name from Halima to Amatullah, because she is a different person now. Amatullah means female "servant of Allah." Conley initially took the name Halima after converting to Islam.

But Moore adamantly responded, "She had another name before Halima."

"Don't tell me that changing her name means she gets it. She changes her name like I change my socks," the judge told the defense.

"She's a look-at-me girl," Moore continued.

John Conley reportedly caught his daughter talking to her ISIS "suitor" on Skype. The couple asked for the father's blessing, but he said no.

On April 1, the father called the FBI to report that he had found her ticket for an April 8 flight to Turkey on his desk.
Read more here.

Pinnochio is alive and well

Glenn Kessler writes the Washington Post's Fact Checker column. Kessler gave Obama three pinnochios for this statement Obama made in the State of the Union Address:
“Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.”

Women of soul come to the White House

Head for higher ground

Christopher Buckley links to this You Tube video of Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger and June Carter. Pete asks Johnny to sing about the Mississippi flood of 1937.

He "never had sex with that woman"

The New York Post's Page Six has this:
Former President Bill Clinton took a romantic jaunt in 2002 to convicted pedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein’s “orgy island” with “two young girls” from New York, according to a shocking new interview.
Read more here.

Choosing to ignore harsh realities

Bridget Johnson continues her fine reporting at PJ Media:
The former vice chief of staff of the Army warned the Senate Armed Services Committee today that al-Qaeda has “grown fourfold in the last five years.”

“AQ and its affiliates exceeds Iran in beginning to dominate multiple countries,” retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane testified.

Using a term that the Obama administration now eschews, Keane called radical Islam “the major security challenge of our generation.”

That leads to an “unmistakable” conclusion that “our policies have failed,” Keane added.

“And the unequivocal explanation is U.S. policy has focused on disengaging from the Middle East, while our stated policy is pivoting to the east,” he said. “U.S. policymakers choose to ignore the very harsh realities of the rise of radical Islam. In my view, we became paralyzed by the fear of adverse consequences in the Middle East after fighting two wars. Moreover, as we sit here this morning, in the face of radical Islam, U.S. policymakers refuse to accurately name the movement as radical Islam. We further choose not to define it, nor explain its ideology, and most critical, we have no comprehensive strategy to stop it or defeat it.”
Read more here.

American Sniper

Today I went to see Clint Eastwood's gem, American Sniper. Absolutely marvelous.

Henri, the existential cat



Thanks to Christopher Buckley

Matrix?


Christina Tringides, a senior at MIT and member of the research team, holds a sample of the multifunction fiber that could deliver optical signals and drugs directly into the brain, along with electrical readouts to continuously monitor the effects of the various inputs.

Read more here.

Bergdahl soon to be charged with desertion

NBC is reporting that Bowe Bergdahl will soon be facing deserter charges. You remember Bowe? He's the guy for whom we gave up five important al Qaeda figures for. Read more here.

Rising suzerainties

Historian Victor Davis Hanson writes about the empires that rose and fell in the twentieth century. Then, he takes note of what has been happening in the 21st century:
We are now in an equally turbulent age of rising empires — mostly due to a new American indifference and passivity. Or, to put it more exactly, President Obama believes that his own legacy rests with avoiding all confrontations overseas, withdrawing as many troops as he can, and cutting the defense budget as much as Congress will allow so as to use the funds to address supposed inequality at home. If chaos results abroad, he can either blame his predecessor, George W. Bush, or assume that his successor will have to deal with what he wrought — or both. Obama is running out the clock of his presidency on the premise of Après moi, le déluge.

A soon-to-be nuclear Iran, through its operatives, now controls portions of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and, soon, Yemen — and dreams of overturning the Sunni sheikhdoms in the Gulf. If you assert that administration talking points come right out of Tehran — as Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey recently did — Obama will characterize such objections not as principled differences, but as cynical attempts to please “donors” — a veiled reference to rich Jews whose money, Obama apparently believes, distorts policy.

Putin is dangerous not just because he runs an autocratic nuclear state and has dreams of restoring 19th-century imperial Russia under Orthodoxy and a new czardom, but also because he has developed a perverse delight in gratuitously humiliating Barack Obama, by exposing his sermonizing platitudes as both hypocritical and impotent.

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan dreams of reviving the Ottoman Empire. He flexes Turkey’s new muscles in both the Arab and the Mediterranean worlds, as he slowly strangles Turkish democracy. Erdogan’s foreign policy is based on a pathological hatred of Israel and claims of a special multicultural relationship with Barack Obama.

Supporters of Obama claim the Iraq War created ISIS; in fact, the disintegration of Syria and the abrupt U.S. withdrawal from Iraq did.

China has terrified almost all of its Westernized neighbors — Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan. It is trying to recreate its own version of the imperial Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere through cash, mercantilism, threats, and the overstepping of borders. Its defense build-up and new aggressive foreign policy reflect a hunch that America’s old Pacific and Asian allies are no longer securely beneath the American defensive umbrella, that they recognize their vulnerability, and that Chinese money and threats are more relevant than U.S. platitudes and indifference.

We are witnessing empire-building unlike anything seen since the 1930s and early 1940s. What is different this time around is not just the older themes of American isolationism, indifference, and appeasement, but also a new, bizarre twist. The Obama administration feels almost as if these rising suzerainties have a more legitimate right to carve out regional empires than the United States has to stop them.
Read more here.

Ignominious pasquinade

Sarah Palin has at least one detractor. He writes big words at National Review, and his name is Charles C.W. Cooke.
Want to find a figure to which Palin can be reasonably compared? It’s not Ronald Reagan. It’s Donald Trump.

The Right will likely never agree on how best it should move forward, but we might at least unite against the belief that there exist superheroes who are able to save the country from itself; against the idea that any one person can be the official standard bearer of a whole ideological or demographic group; and against the presumption that conservatism will gain anything much at all from the promotion and advancement of its most erratic champions. Further still, we might refrain from attempting to immunize our friends from the consequences of their actions. Having been mercilessly and unjustly pilloried by the media throughout the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin had a clear choice in its aftermath: She could sober up and prove the buggers wrong, or she could collapse into ignominious pasquinade. Sadly, she chose the latter. The rest of us should choose to move on.
Read more of Cooke's blistering criticism of Palin here

The balls are in his court

How would you like to be the locker room attendant/equipment guy for the New England Patriots?
FOX Sports has learned that the NFL has zeroed in on a New England Patriots locker-room attendant in connection with the scandal of improperly inflated footballs used in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The person of interest was already interviewed by the league. The NFL is trying to determine whether any wrongdoing by this individual occurred, sources tell FOX Sports.

There is surveillance video showing the attendant taking the footballs from the official's locker room into another room at Gillette Stadium before bringing them out to the field, sources tell FOX Sports.

The NFL confiscated 11 of 12 footballs at halftime that were under the league-mandated air pressure of 12.5 PSI. The league has since launched an investigation into the matter.

Using an underinflated football can provide a competitive advantage by being easier to grip and throw, especially in the type of rainy weather conditions that surrounded the AFC title game.

New England head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady both have proclaimed innocence and said they were unaware how the footballs became underinflated.

If you were the person who deflated the balls, what would it take for you to "come clean?" $1,000,000? $5,000,000? Read more here.

What narrative are you choosing today?

Are you choosing to be happy today? Seth Godin writes:
Happiness, for most of us, is a choice. Reality is not. It seems, though, that choosing to be happy ends up changing the reality that we keep track of.

Our narrative, the laundry list we tick off, the things we highlight for ourselves and others... our narrative is completely up to us.

The simple shortcut: the way we respond to the things that we can't change can instantly transform our lives. "That's interesting," is a thousand times more productive than, "that's terrible." Even more powerful is our ability to stop experiencing failure before it even happens, because, of course, it usually doesn't.

Monday, January 26, 2015

America no longer exceptional?

Is America really exceptional? George Will links to an article by Nicholas Eberstadt in National Affairs quarterly, which shows how we have become an entitlement state, no longer exceptional.

Drone lands on White House lawn


Today a drone landed on the White House lawn. Luckily it was not loaded with explosives like the drones Obama has been using to kill people in the Middle East. I guess it's just a matter of time. Josh Lederman and Joan Lowy reported for the Associated Press:
Paul McDuffee, vice president at drone-maker Insitu, said of the device that crashed: "Something of that size is going to be very limited in terms of what it can carry, probably down to a few ounces in payload."

Even so, a small drone at low altitude is hard to intercept.

"There's probably nothing they have that could stop it, particularly at night," said James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "The sniper would be shooting at the drone and his bullets would be going past it into the buildings on Connecticut Avenue. If it's a crisis or emergency, sure, that makes sense, but what goes up comes down, and that includes bullets."

The New York Times reports that
The drone, which was about two feet in diameter and weighed about two pounds, was operated by a government employee whom the Secret Service did not identify. The agency said the employee was flying the object near the White House around 3 a.m. for recreational purposes when he lost control of it. Officials did not explain why the man, who does not work at the White House and who has not been charged with a crime, was flying the drone at that hour.

The incident comes just days after the Department of Homeland Security held a conference in Arlington, Va., on the dangers that such drones pose to the nation’s critical infrastructure and government facilities. On display at the meeting was a DJI Phantom drone — the same type of drone that crashed at the White House on Monday. But the drone on display had three pounds of fake explosives attached to the payload as part of an effort to show how easily it could be used to launch an attack, according to a participant at the conference.

A counterterrorism official at the meeting warned that small drones could also be used to launch chemical and biological attacks, according to Daniel Herbert, who attended the conference.
Read more here.

"I'm not sure. I haven't studied it enough."

I think Mark Dice is funny. With a straight face, he gets people to agree to astoundingly stupid ideas, such as getting rid of the Bill of Rights and trusting that Obama knows what's best for us. I can't help but notice he is interviewing Californians, who obviously have been spending way too much time in the sun. Also, don't you love the way some people readily present themselves as being knowledgeable, when the fact is, they are woefully ignorant?

Doing the hard thing

Do you have some big things that are hard, and you keep putting them off? Ann Voskamp believes that
hard things just keep calling you because you’re meant to answer to higher and better things.

Life is Pain — and you get to choose: either the Pain of Discipline or the Pain of Disappointment.

Nothing happens without discipline. No music gets played without discipline. No games get won. No finish lines get crossed. No freedom gets tasted.

Brilliant doesn’t matter, if you can’t get out of bed.
Talent doesn’t mean a thing, if you let fear be some terrorist that take you hostage.
Potential doesn’t add up to anything, if you get addicted to perfectionism because perfectionism is slow death by self.

Listen: Fire your perfectionism and your procrastination will quit too.
Go here to read Ann's solution

Terror being used to promote the establishment of Sharia law

Dick Morris believes that the Paris terror attack crossed a line into new territory: the use of terror to promote the establishment of Sharia law. Watch his video here.

Indispensable

I have the day off today, so I listened to the indispensable Rush Limbaugh while doing my kitchen chores. Rush was raving about the accomplishments of Scott Walker as Governor of Wisconsin, a blue state. Time and again Walker has taken on the left and won.

Rush was also talking about Obama's plan to tax the middle class in order to pay for "free" community college.

Update: I missed this part of Rush's program today. I urge everyone to read Rush's wonderful tribute to his chief of staff Kit Carson, who died this morning.

A company that made claims about a supposed miracle drug and a connection to Dr. Ben Carson

Jim Geraghty of National Review has written an article here about potential GOP candidate Dr. Ben Carson, and his association with Mannatech, a company that sells nutritional supplements.

A friendly bond

H.W. Bush gave Bill Clinton a "heads up" that Jeb was planning to explore a run for president. Mike Allen reports in Politico:
Bill Clinton is already deeply engaged in the campaign, warning that Jeb Bush is a real threat, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is probably just a sideshow.

The former president got a “heads-up” from the camp of President George H.W. Bush a few days before Jeb Bush made his surprise Facebook announcement in December that he would “actively explore” a campaign. The two former presidents have developed a friendly bond, partly because of their work together on earthquake relief for Haiti.

Read more of the juicy political details here.

Thanks to Jim Geraghty at National Review, who adds, "With all due respect to the distinguished Bush family, will members of that family be giving the Clinton family a heads-up on all of the key maneuvers during the campaign? The elder Bush is a perfect gentleman, but his son will be campaigning in a political culture and competing against an opponent that eats up perfect gentlemen for lunch."

Overcoming fear of public speaking

Are you afraid of public speaking? Seth Godin has a plan to help you overcome that fear. His final thoughts, after outlining his plan:
Every single important thing we do is something we didn't use to be good at, and in fact, might be something we used to fear.

This is not easy. It's difficult. But that's okay, because it's possible.
Read his plan here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ten very short prayers

From the Saint Peter's List blog, here are ten short prayers we can say during the day.

Thanks to Lexington Green

The ubiquity of our distractions

David Carr writes in the New York Times:
I understand why people bury themselves in their phones on elevator rides, on subways and in the queue for coffee, but it has gotten to the point where even our distractions require distractions. No media viewing experience seems complete without a second screen, where we can yammer with our friends on social media or in instant messages about what we are watching.

Every form of media is now companion media, none meriting a single, acute focus. We are either the most bored people in the history of our species or the ubiquity of distractions has made us act that way.

And it’s not just those raised on screens who are prone to distraction. As adults, we make “friends” who are not actually friends, develop “followers” composed of people who would not follow us out of a room, and “like” things whether we really like them or not.

The president of the United States is in the middle of displaying mastery over all manner of new media, including but not limited to Medium, Facebook, YouTube and Reddit. Perhaps his traction on these platforms is distracting him from the fact that he has been less successful at the actual act of governing.

If Windows or something like it becomes the operating system not just for my desktop but for my world, how much will I actually have to venture out into it? I can have holographic conferences with my colleagues, virtually ski the KT-22 runs at Squaw Valley in California during my downtime and ask my virtual assistant to run my day, my house and my life. After all, I already talk to my phone and it talks back to me. We are BFFs, even though only one of us is actually human.
Read more here.

Not a very speedy getaway

Some criminals are just not very smart. Take this guy, for example.

Daniel Gaspard loaded his Walmart electric shopping cart with Mardi Gras cups (the store was in Louisiana), a t.v. antenna (everybody needs an antenna don't they?), a half gallon of vodka, and an Adidas sun visor. He then proceeded to drive the cart past the check out lanes and right out the front door, through the parking lot, and into a nearby Dollar Store parking lot, where he was seen by a Walmart employee who was on his way to work. When he arrived at work, the Walmart employee told a manager where he had seen the cart. The cops were called, and quickly found the cart. They also found Mr. Gaspard. When he gets out of jail, I'm sure that next time Mr. Gaspard will seek a faster mode of transportation, because the top speed of those carts is about one mile per hour.
Read more here.

"Beheading is just one strand in the vibrant tapestry of the multicultural utopia"


Naveed Ahmed pleaded guilty this week to the crime of decapitating his wife in their home they shared with their two children on a quiet residential street in London. Read more here. One of the commenters at The Daily Mail story about the murder was quoted by Mark Steyn as saying,
Poor woman. Why is beheading always in the news, is this really 2015?

Mark explains,
Beheading was introduced to England by William the Conqueror after 1066, but was generally reserved for the highest of the high - men of noble birth, for whom execution by decapitation was felt to be the closest thing to death in battle - and for the lowest of the low - traitors. So the last person to be beheaded in Britain was Lord Lovat in 1747, and the last corpses to be beheaded were those of the Cato Street Conspirators in 1820, who had their heads severed posthumously by axe.

And that was it until the 21st century, when for the first time soldiers were beheaded on the London streets in broad daylight, and octogenarian widows in the privacy of their gardens, and now unfortunate ladies with intemperate husbands. Unless you're prepared to do something about your immigration policy, get used to more decapitation. It's 2015, and beheading is just one strand in the vibrant tapestry of the multicultural utopia.
Read more here.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Islam has nothing to do with Islam

Pat Condell wants nothing to do with intolerance, misogyny, anti-semitism, racism, homophobia, violence, and manufactured offense.

You don't need that car

Michael Bastach reports on a proposal from Al Gore that is as absurd as anything I have heard recently. Gore and former Mexican President Calderon are in Davos, Switzerland
pushing for $90 trillion in spending to ban cars from every major city in the world and make them more dense.

Gore and Calderon presented a report from the Global Commission on the Economy & Climate (GCEC) and argued that fighting global warming will require making cities more compact and wholly reliant on public transit.

Calderon and Gore made their presentation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where, ironically (or maybe not, at this point), some 1,700 private jets — which use petroleum — were used to shuttle in conference participants and others to discuss global warming and other pressing global issues.
Read more here.

Now he's an authority on the subject

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick Thursday said he knows nothing about deflated balls, and told reporters to talk to his quarterback, Tom Brady, who also denied any impropriety. Today, however, Belichick
described in detail how his team prepares its footballs on game day and defended his players from chatter that they made it to the Super Bowl by cheating.

Jimmy Golen describes Belichick:
A football lifer who only seems happy on the sidelines, if at all, Belichick is known for an absolute attention to detail that prepares his team for every imaginable situation.
Read more here.

Latest beheading

The New York Times has a headline that reads:
Video Appears to Show Decapitated Body of a Japanese Hostage of ISIS.
Read the story here.

"Mitt choked"

Comparing Mitt Romney to a golfer who chokes on a three foot putt, Donald Trump told Iowans today that Republicans cannot make the mistake of nominating Romney or Jeb Bush, whom Trump described as being terribly weak on immigration and a Common Core advocate. Go here to read more and listen to the Donald blast Bush and Romney.

Iran no longer using US dollar in foreign trade

Did you know that Iran no longer uses the US dollar in foreign trade transactions? They aren't alone. Russia, China, India and Turkey often pay for products in gold or other agreed on currencies. Read more here.

Terror leaders go on to meet their virgins

There has not been much in the news to discuss the Israeli airstrike in Syria last Sunday that killed an Iranian general and senior Hezbollah commanders, Muhammad Issa and Jihad Mughniyeh, son of slain terror mastermind Imad Mughniyeh. The Times of Israel has put together a report:
Israeli officials told Moscow that Israel viewed the strike as an act of self-defense, and that Hezbollah had forced Israel’s hand by building an offensive infrastructure on its border.

A report on Channel 2 Friday said the strike targeted the leaders of a substantial new Hezbollah terror hierarchy that was set to attempt kidnappings, rocket attacks and other assaults on military and civilian targets in northern Israel.

The new terror unit involved Mughniyeh, who was coordinating with the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Qasem Soleimani, the Channel 2 report said. There was no suggestion in the report that Soleimani, a key figure in supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah, was in the area at the time.

The terrorist hierarchy included recruitment and intelligence departments, and was set to begin operations targeting Israel from the Syrian Golan, including “kidnappings, firing rockets and mortar shells, and using anti-tank weapons against Israeli residential areas.”

The unit was set up “with Iranian sponsorship,” the report said. Israel’s targeting of some of its members underlined that “a red line was crossed that Israel would not tolerate.”
Read more here.


Sarah is seriously interested


Sarah Palin speaking at a trade show this week in Las Vegas. (John Locher/AP)

Guess who else showed up in Iowa today? And guess who else said she was seriously interested in running for president? Can you dig Sarah versus Hillary? Final male vote: 96% for Sarah, 4% for Hillary.

Scott Walker wows conservatives in Iowa

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker showed some fire as he addressed Iowa conservatives today, reports Cameron Joseph of The Hill.
The Wisconsin governor, in rolled-up shirtsleeves, paced the stage as he blasted big government and touted a long list of conservative reforms he's pushed through in blue Wisconsin.

The governor also showed a rhetorical flourish that's largely been absent from his previous campaigns, drawing the crowd to its feet multiple times.

"There's a reason we take a day off to celebrate the 4th of July and not the 15th of April," he said, almost yelling as his voice grew hoarse. "Because in America we value our independence from the government, not our dependence on it."

Walker's speech had something for every element of the activist crowd. The governor touted his three victories over Democrats and recall win as well as his state-level education reforms. Each new policy he helped pass drew cheers: Voter ID laws, education reforms, tax cuts and defunding Planned Parenthood.

The biggest question for Walker as he ramps up for a race is whether he has the fire in the belly and political skills to stand onstage against the other candidates. And in his first major Iowa address, he may have done a lot to dispel notions that he lacks charisma.

When he said he won reelection as Milwaukee County Executive in an area where President Obama won by a two-to-one margin, some in the audience gasped.

"If you get the job done the voters will actually stand up with you," he said before contrasting his record with Washington's deadlock.

The preacher's son also showed a personal side — and spoke in religious terms to thank Iowans who prayed for him as he faced death threats during his fight against the public sector unions, including one that promised to gut his wife "like a deer."

Walker made sure to establish his Iowa roots — saying he'd lived there until third grade until his father got a job as a minister in Wisconsin — before promising to return "many more times in the future."

Friday, January 23, 2015

War archers



Thanks to Ace

Deflated balls, inflated Iranian empire


Photo: AP (2); Getty Images
The person in the photo above says he has no clue how his balls got deflated. That is the only subject of conversation in the U.S. today. The other two people, Brian Dawkins (top right) and Mark Brunell (bottom right) aren't buying Brady's story.
Meanwhile what is this fellow doing?
Charles Krauthammer explains here.

Do rappers have First Amendment rights?

Rappers continue to have a powerful influence on America's young people. California is trying to put away for 25 years to life Rapper Tiny Doo. Did he kill somebody? No, he made a rap video! Read the story here.

Which state has the highest rates of millionaires?

The Washington Post provides a graph listing the areas with the highest rate of millionaires per capita. Maryland finished first. California, of course has the highest number of millionaires, but not per capita. Read more here.
Find your state's ranking here.

The Used Car Salespeople Candidates

Then there is Jeb Bush, who, like Hillary last year, spoke this week to the National Association of Car Dealers. What I found most interesting in his remarks was that he speaks of himself as an introvert:
He called himself “an introvert,” saying he would “rather read a book than go out and get in a conga line.”

“Introverts actually are grinders,” Bush said. “They identify a problem by and large, and then they overcome it. But I learned that in order to make your case or in order to serve or in order to advance a cause, you have to connect with people, and you can’t connect with people if you’re back in the corner reading a book.”
Read more here.

Rubio?

Jonathan Karl reports that
Sen. Marco Rubio has begun taking concrete steps toward launching a presidential bid, asking his top advisors to prepare for a campaign, signing on a leading Republican fundraiser, and planning extensive travel to early-voting states in the coming weeks, ABC News has learned.

"He has told us to proceed as if he is running for president," a senior Rubio advisor tells ABC News.
Read more here.

Charles Krauthammer believes Rubio will be the eventual GOP candidate. Read more here.

Got a "mosquito" bite?

Paul Joseph Watson reports:
Harvard Professor Margo Seltzer warned that miniature mosquito drones will one day forcibly extract your DNA on behalf of the government and insurance companies as she told elitists at the World Economic Forum in Davos that privacy was dead.

Seltzer, a professor in computer science at Harvard University, told attendees, “Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer feasible… How we conventionally think of privacy is dead.”

Seltzer went on to predict that in the near future, mosquito-sized robots would perpetually monitor individuals as well as collecting DNA and biometric information for governments and corporations.
Read more here.

A global joke

When was the last time you heard a union leader blast President Obama? Kenneth Palinkas, President of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council representing 12,000 United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) adjudicators and personnel said yesterday
“After the House passed its legislation to reverse the amnesty, all I hear is silence in the Senate. It seems Congressional leaders will not rise to defend the laws of the United States, but are giving in to the ‘imperial presidency,’ Palinkas says.

The new “border security” bill is “a global joke,”

“It’s not border security if anyone can recite the magic words and get waved right on in. Those who arrived in the 2014 border run are still here, often living on US support and even applying for US jobs. The bill also delays by years the implementation of biometric exit-entry to police the rising overstay catastrophe.”

"The President’s executive amnesty order for 5 million illegal immigrants places the mission of USCIS in grave peril. Instead of meeting our lawful function to protect the Homeland and keep out those who pose a threat to US security, health, or finances, our officers will be assigned to process amnesty for individuals residing illegally inside our nation’s borders. This compromises national security and public safety, while undermining officer morale."
Read more here.

Measles outbreak spreading

An extremely contagious measles virus is back. An outbreak that started at Disneyland is starting to sweep the country. Christie Ileto reports:
Measles was thought to have been eliminated in the U.S. 15 years ago. Now its back, targeting those who haven’t been immunized.

The outbreak that started in California’s Disneyland is expanding. At least 75 cases of measles span six states.
Read more here.

Obama and Kerry pouting about Netanyahu again

Benjamin Netanyahu will be addressing a joint session of Congress on March 3, which is two weeks before the Israeli election. Both Obama and Kerry have said that they will not meet with Netanyahu. Netanyahu wants Congress to do more to stop Iran from going nuclear. Read more here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Envision your life without...

Ann Voskamp writes:
It’s only when you realize everyone you love will one day leave you — that you really begin to love.

Envision life without the loveliness of those you love — and you see how much you love.

The way to love life is to imagine losing it.

He who loses his life finds it.
Read more here.

By the number

Before the President's State of the Union address Tuesday night, The Republican National Committee released some figures Obama might not mention:
$18.1 Trillion:
Total Debt Under Obama As Of January 14, 2014. (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 1/14/15)

$10.6 Trillion:
Total Debt When Obama Became President On January 20, 2009. (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 1/9/15)

$7.5 Trillion:
Amount Added To The National Debt Despite Obama’s 2010 State Of The Union Declaration That He Would Not Leave “A Mountain Of Debt.” (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 1/14/15; President Barack Obama, Remarks On The State Of The Union, Washington, D.C., 1/27/10)

$4 Trillion:
Amount Of Debt That Obama Once Called “Irresponsible” And “Unpatriotic.”(Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks At A Campaign Event, Fargo, ND, 7/3/08)

$1.8 Trillion:
Cost Of ObamaCare’s Coverage Provisions Through 2024. (CBO, 4/14/14)

$1.3 Trillion:
Total Student Debt Held By Americans. (Federal Reserve Board Of Governors, Accessed 1/14/15)

$869.3 Billion:
Total Taxes In ObamaCare. (JCT, 6/15/12; CBO, 4/14/14)

$95 Billion:
Cost Of New Regulations Added Since Obama Became President. (American Action Forum, 1/6/15)

$60 Billion:
Cost Of Obama’s Community College Tuition Plan Over Ten Years. ( TheAssociated Press , 1/9/15)

$3.4 Billion:
Average Amount Of Debt Added Daily Since Obama Became President. (U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 1/14/15)

$3.4 Billion:
How Much The Construction Of The Keystone Pipeline Would Contribute To GDP According To A State Department Review. (United States Department Of State, 1/14)

46.5 Million:
Average Number Of Americans Receiving Food Stamps In FY 2014.(Department Of Agriculture, Accessed 1/14/15)

13 Million:
Average Number Of Americans Who Have Joined The Food Stamp Program Since FY 2009. (Department Of Agriculture, Accessed 1/14/15)

7 Million:
Number Of Americans Who Will No Longer Have Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Due To ObamaCare. (Congressional Budget Office, 4/14/14)

5.5 Million:
Americans Who Have Fallen Into Poverty Since Obama Became President.(U.S. Census Bureau, Accessed 1/14/15)

2.3 Million:
Americans Who Are Only Marginally Attached To The Labor Force. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/14/15)

401,000:
Construction Jobs Lost Since Obama Became President. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/14/15)

321,000:
Manufacturing Jobs Lost Since Obama Became President. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/14/15)

273,000:
Number Of People Who Left The Labor Force Between November AndDecember Of 2014. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/14/15)

$56,492:
Current Debt Per Capita Under Obama. (U.S. Census Bureau, Accessed 1/14/15;U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 1/14/15)

42,100:
Number Of Jobs The Construction Of The Keystone Pipeline Would Support Over Two Years According To A State Department Review. (United States Department Of State, 1/14)

$21,724:
Increase In Debt Per Capita For Americans Since Obama Took Office. (U.S. Census Bureau, Accessed 1/14/15; U.S. Treasury Department, Accessed 1/14/15)

$4,154:
Increase In Family Health Care Premiums Under Obama. (The Kaiser Family Foundation, 9/10/14)

$2,484:
Decline In Median Household Income Since Obama Became President. (U.S. Census Bureau, Accessed 1/14/15)

1978:
The Last Time The Labor Force Participation Rate Was At Its Current level.(BLS, 1/24/14)

677:
Individuals Who Have Been Through Obama’s Revolving Door. (Center For Responsive Politics, Accessed 1/12/15)

215:
Rounds Of Golf Obama Has Played Since He Has Taken Office. (Mark Knoller,Twitter Feed, 12/31/14; Mark Knoller, Twitter Feed, 1/4/15)

174:
Number Of Days Obama Has Spent All Or Part On Vacation. (CBS News, 12/22/14; Mark Knoller, Twitter Feed, 1/4/15)

100%:
Total Debt As A Percentage Of GDP Under Obama. (OMB, Accessed 1/14/15)

65.7%:
Labor Force Participation Rate When Obama Became President. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/14/15)

62.7%:
Labor Force Participation Rate In December. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/14/15)

65:
Number Of Fundraisers Obama Attended In 2014. (Mark Knoller, Twitter Feed, 12/2/14)

32.8:
Average Number Of Weeks Someone Will Be Unemployed. (BLS, 1/14/15)

14.5%:
Poverty Rate In 2013. (U.S. Census, Accessed 1/23/14)

13.2%:
Poverty Rate Before Obama Became President. (U.S. Census, Accessed 1/23/14)

6:
Veto Threats Issued By Obama In The New Year. (The White House Website, Accessed 1/19/15; ABC News, 1/16/15)

0:
Attempts To Actually Work With Congress
Thanks to Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit.

Google chairman: "The internet will disappear."

Georg Szalai reports:
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt on Thursday predicted the end of the Internet as we know it.

At the end of a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where his comments were webcast, he was asked for his prediction on the future of the web. “I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear,” Schmidt said.

“There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it,” he explained. “It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”
Whatever, dude.
Read more here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's more important than a good nap?

Three Supreme Court Justices boycotted Obama's speech last night: Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, however, was present, er, ah, sort of.

Love child's charm offensive

3D printed prosthetics



Thanks to Ace of Spades

Former Democratic staffer showcased by Obama at State of the Union


AP photo
The woman seated next to Michelle Obama at last night's State of the Union address is Rebekah Erler. Her story of economic recovery was showcased by President Barack Obama. Turns out she is a former Democratic campaign staffer and has been used by Obama for political events in the past.
Brent Scher has the story here.

Boehner invites Israeli leader to address joint session of Congress

This is interesting. Kudos to Boehner anyone?
House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday he is inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress next month about the threat from Iran, in a sharp rebuke to President Obama.

Such invitations typically are coordinated with the White House and State Department, but this one was not. The House speaker's office said Netanyahu will be invited to speak Feb. 11 before a joint session of Congress. The invitation comes as lawmakers weigh legislation, supported by Republicans and some Democrats, to tee up more sanctions against Iran in case negotiations fail to curtail the country's nuclear enrichment program.

Obama vowed Tuesday during his State of the Union address to veto any such legislation. But Boehner signaled he wants Netanyahu to explain the stakes of the debate, as he pledged to press ahead with the legislation.
Read more here.

Stress and music

Ann Voskamp is thinking about stress...and music.
Music is made in stress. A string has to be stressed, it has to be pulled tight, to make music.
Music is made in stress. A string has to be stressed, it has to be pulled tight, to make music.
The string has to be moved from it’s comfortable, resting position if it’s ever going to be make music.

The bending of the string, this induces stress. And as the string bends, as the string arches in stress, and then releases, it vibrates — and there is the practiced offering.

This one clear note, high and long.
When you’re like a guitar — empty and stretched taut and strings stressed tight — you’re the perfect space to be made a song.

In stress, there can be song.

The days we feel stressed, the days we feel empty — these are our Guitar Days. These are the days that could make music.

The resonance of sound is always in the surrender.
Read more here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Islamic State comes up with brilliant idea: let's crucify some people!

Samuel Smith reports
The Islamic State's execution spree picked up dramatically last week, as the militant group released its latest round of execution photos. Along with photos showing the execution of two gay men, an accused adulteress and two bandits in Iraq, the group has also reportedly crucified and executed 17 men accused of fighting against the caliphate.
Read more details about the killings here.

Whitewashing Iran


Alberto Nisman (photo credit: AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Have you read about the "apparent suicide" of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman? Nisman is the man who
has spent a decade heading a 30-strong team investigating the worst terror attack ever committed in Argentina; who has identified the Iranian leaders who ordered it and had them placed on Interpol watch lists; who has traced and named the Hezbollah terrorists who carried out the bombing; who has exposed Iran’s still-active terror networks in South America; and who was about to detail the alleged efforts of Argentinian President Cristina Fernández and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman to whitewash Iran’s role. Would that this man would choose to take his own life just a few hours before giving his testimony to a Congressional hearing?

Does anyone doubt that a government capable of whitewashing Iran is capable of producing a dead prosecutor in a locked apartment?
Read more here.
Thanks to Donald Douglas

Will Obama meet with Naghmeh Abedini tomorrow?

President Obama is going to be in Boise, Idaho tomorrow. That is the home town of imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini, who's serving eight years in prison in Iran for his faith.
Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, has pleaded with Obama to meet with her so that she can ask him for her husband's release.

"My heart leapt with hope when I heard that you would be visiting my hometown of Boise, Idaho. Since the Iranian government took my husband, Saeed Abedini, almost three years ago, I have been praying and wanting to meet with you," Naghmeh Abedini wrote in a letter ahead of Obama's visit.

"With each of my travels to Washington D.C. I hoped that I would get a call, or an invitation to see you and to speak with you. To have you look into my eyes and see the piercing pain that has been there since my husband's imprisonment; to see my kids and to know that they have missed the warm embrace of their dad for nearly three years."

She added: "Mr. President, my children and I respectfully request, as you come to our home town of Boise, Idaho, that you take a moment of your time to meet with us."

Pastor Abedini was imprisoned in Iran in September 2012 after traveling to work on a children's orphanage, and was later sentenced to eight years in prison.

Since then the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Naghmeh and the couple's two children, has campaigned, along with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, calling for the pastor's release.

Pastor Abedini has held fast to his faith despite the brutal treatment he has received in Iranian prisons, which has included beatings and death threats by jihadists believed to be connected with terror group ISIS.
Read more here.

Who am I living for?

Avoid the long, slow surrender

Chateau Heartiste writes:
Chicks dig power above all other male attractiveness traits. Male power truly is distilled aphrodisia. Women’s love circuits are wired differently than men’s; a woman’s love will erupt and ensconce an apex male, and it will be a genuine love, in much the same way a man’s love will rush out from him unbidden for a beautiful young woman.

He gives this example:
a former Miss Montenegro beauty queen who admitted having a two year affair with Silvio Berlusconi. She met him two years ago when she was 18 and he was… 73. And how does Katarina feel about the age gap?

She said: ‘In love age is not important – an extraordinary person like him could be 100 years old, it would have no effect on me, he would have still struck me.’
Read more here.

CH has this advice for us aging males:
You don’t have to be a prime minister to capture the hearts of younger women (although it helps). I advise aging men to keep that spark of adventure they had when they were teen striplings. Do whatever it takes to avoid the long, slow surrender — the Barcalounger betrayal of your masculine birthright — and strive to maintain a sense of wonder. A dash of immaturity goes a long way toward cultivating a youthful frame of mind, which is a necessary prerequisite to winning the hearts of young women.

So raise a glass to Silvio, a refreshing anachronism in an increasingly sterile West.

The awesome power of love

Chateau Heartiste writes:
Arranged marriages don’t sound like much fun, but one problem with moving as a culture toward exclusively love-based marriage is that it neuters the ability of parents to exert any control over their daughters’ instinctual romantic compulsions. The ancients knew that women’s libidos were dangerous when left unchecked. But a culture that prizes doe-eyed love as the be-all and end-all of legitimate marriage must come to terms with the fact that many women love the wrong kinds of men. It’s in their genes.

Love makes betas of men, in more ways than one, and it would be wise to remember that some of those men are fathers whose authority has been gutted by the awesome power of love.
Read more here.

What can't love do?

One of Chateau Heartiste's commenters writes: "Every civilized person in the West claims they abhor eugenics until their daughter wants to get married." To which CH replies:
Parents aren’t the only secret eugenicists. The daughters and sons will find it much easier to fall in love with a person who is high mate value and thus eugenically optimal. God teaches us the power of Love so that we may advance as a species.

Interesting thing about Love. Love can be both a rationalization for a poor mate choice — “oh, but she’s so in love, and that’s all that matters” — and a euphemism for a eugenically pleasing pairing — “it wasn’t his money, it was love that brought them together”. What can’t Love do?
Found here.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Can Ted Cruz win the center?

Dick Morris notes that the Republicans have a "safe default" position filled by candidates such as Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. He wonders whether Ted Cruz, while being faithful to the right, can win the center. He does not mention Scott Walker. Watch his analysis here.

Candidates who insult our intelligence

Is it possible that the GOP will nominate a candidate in 2016 who will not insult our intelligence? One who would promise
“I will not ruin any more American evenings with televised State of the Union addresses. I will mail my thoughts on that subject to Congress ‘from time to time,’ as the Constitution directs. This was good enough for Jefferson and every subsequent president until Woodrow Wilson, the first president who believed, as progressives do, that the nation cannot function without constant presidential tutoring and hectoring."

“Finally, there have been 44 presidencies before the one I moderately aspire to administer, and there will be many more than 44 after it. Mine will be a success if, a century hence, Americans remember me as dimly as they remember Grover Cleveland, the last Democratic president with proper understanding of this office’s place in our constitutional order.”
Read more here.

Color of skin, or content of character?

Roger Clegg writes that
It’s felicitous that two days after Martin Luther King Day this year, the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. This case involves the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement, and that approach is contrary to Dr. King’s famous dream of a day when Americans would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

Suppose that the owner of an apartment complex decides that she does not want to rent units to people with recent convictions for violent crimes. She makes this decision for obvious reasons, namely that such criminals are unreliable tenants and that their presence makes it harder to rent other units and more likely that current tenants will decide to leave. She does not adopt this policy because she thinks it will disproportionately exclude members of this or that racial or ethnic group — indeed, she is completely unaware of what demographic impact it will have — and she applies it evenhandedly, without regard to skin color or national origin. What’s more, she can prove all this in court.

Can she nonetheless be liable for racial discrimination if her policy turns out to exclude members of some racial groups more frequently than members of other racial groups?

The Obama administration says yes — and the Supreme Court will determine in the Texas case if that’s right.

The Obama administration has made no secret of its love for this approach to civil-rights enforcement, and it has been aggressive in applying it to every imaginable situation. In employment, for example, it complains if a fire or police department administers physical or written tests that have politically incorrect results, or if a company uses criminal background checks; in voting, it objects if voter ID is required; in education, it is hostile to school discipline policies if they have a disproportionate racial or ethnic result; it has even insisted on drawing distinctions between acceptable and unacceptable pollution, depending on the skin color and national origin of those affected by the pollution.
Read more here.

Responding to barbarism from the seventh century with soft rock from the 1970s

Out of respect for my readers, I have not re-posted the You Tube video of James Taylor singing "You've got a Friend" to the French. I presume you have already seen it, and were as embarrassed as I. Kevin Williamson writes that
It is the substitution of celebrity for power, of sentiment for analysis, of sloppy gesture for clear-headed commitment.

We’re responding to barbarism from the seventh century with soft rock from the 1970s.

Who is James Taylor?
He became a hired hand for politicians, playing with MoveOn.org’s “Vote for Change” tour through swing states on behalf of – small world! – John Kerry, our national personification of vanity, a kept man, dilettante, and Democratic time-server whose career was both launched and sustained by self-serving accounts of his service in the Vietnam War, a conflict that Taylor avoided by being declared mentally unfit to serve.

If you find yourself in a fight, you want to know that you’ve got a friend. But do you really want that friend to be James Taylor?

It’s not that we should send the 101st Airborne to les banlieues, rather that we should be the sort of country that makes it matter when we say “you’ve got a friend.” When it comes to jihad, there are no obvious solutions, but there are some obvious non-solutions, and an impromptu James Taylor concert surely is one of them.

I'm offended, therefore the government should shut you up!

Eugene Volokh writes:
religions and religious figures are proper subjects for debate and commentary, both rational verbal debate and commentary, and the subtle commentary that can be offered by art.

Volokh coins the term "censorship envy."
When speech hostile or insulting towards one religion or symbol is suppressed by government action (as has been urged by many in Europe and Canada with regard to the Muhammad cartoons), or by self-censorship in the face of threatened violence, what happens when other groups are similarly offended? Their sense of outrage — and of entitlement to similar suppressive power — is increased, because they are now outraged by the perceived unequal treatment as well as by the original offense.
Read more here.

Loose and jazzy

After reading Mark Steyn write:
Frank, George Benson, Lionel Hampton, Frank Foster and Quincy Jones are on especially good form on "After You've Gone"
, I decide to view the recording on You Tube.

Is there such thing as race?

On this Martin Luther King day, Jeff Goldstein wrote at Protein Wisdom:
maybe it’s time we put aside our differences in order to construct a singular American identity. After all, we are each individuals, which is what makes us, ultimately, a nation.
Read more here.

LBJ and MLK: partners?

LBJ, who delighted in listening to surveillance tapes of Martin Luther King, when King was being sexually unfaithful to his wife, and who was known for using racial slurs, is back in the spotlight today because of the movie Selma. Was he Martin Luther King's partner in seeking justice for black Americans?

Adam Serwer writes:
Lyndon Johnson said the word “nigger” a lot.

In Senate cloakrooms and staff meetings, Johnson was practically a connoisseur of the word. According to Johnson biographer Robert Caro, Johnson would calibrate his pronunciations by region, using “nigra” with some southern legislators and “negra” with others. Discussing civil rights legislation with men like Mississippi Democrat James Eastland, who committed most of his life to defending white supremacy, he’d simply call it “the nigger bill.”

For two decades in Congress he was a reliable member of the Southern bloc, helping to stonewall civil rights legislation. As Caro recalls, Johnson spent the late 1940s railing against the “hordes of barbaric yellow dwarves” in East Asia. Buying into the stereotype that blacks were afraid of snakes (who isn’t afraid of snakes?) he’d drive to gas stations with one in his trunk and try to trick black attendants into opening it.

In Flawed Giant, Johnson biographer Robert Dallek writes that Johnson explained his decision to nominate Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court rather than a less famous black judge by saying, “when I appoint a nigger to the bench, I want everybody to know he’s a nigger.”

According to Caro, Robert Parker, Johnson’s sometime chauffer, described in his memoir Capitol Hill in Black and White a moment when Johnson asked Parker whether he’d prefer to be referred to by his name rather than “boy,” “nigger” or “chief.” When Parker said he would, Johnson grew angry and said, “As long as you are black, and you’re gonna be black till the day you die, no one’s gonna call you by your goddamn name. So no matter what you are called, nigger, you just let it roll off your back like water, and you’ll make it. Just pretend you’re a goddamn piece of furniture.”

After Johnson’s death, Parker would reflect on the Johnson who championed the landmark civil rights bills that formally ended American apartheid, and write, “I loved that Lyndon Johnson.” Then he remembered the president who called him a nigger, and he wrote, “I hated that Lyndon Johnson.”
Read more here.
Thanks to Mary Grabar

The majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood

Just as some are criticizing Charlie Hebdo's cartoonists for going too far in continuing to lampoon the "prophet" Mohammed, Martin Luther King was criticized by some of his fellow ministers for going too far. He decided to write them a letter while passing time in the Birmingham, Alabama jail. Some excerpts follow.

We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.

If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
You can read the whole letter here.
Thanks to Seth Godin, who reminds us that
Taking action is a choice.

Speaking up is a choice.

And yes, standing on the sidelines is a choice.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Deepmind Artificial Intelligence



Robert MacMillan writes:
In the past five years, advances in artificial intelligence—in particular, within a branch of AI algorithms called deep neural networks—are putting AI-driven products front-and-center in our lives. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Baidu, to name a few, are hiring artificial intelligence researchers at an unprecedented rate, and putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the race for better algorithms and smarter computers.

AI problems that seemed nearly unassailable just a few years ago are now being solved. Deep learning has boosted Android’s speech recognition, and given Skype Star Trek-like instant translation capabilities. Google is building self-driving cars, and computer systems that can teach themselves to identify cat videos. Robot dogs can now walk very much like their living counterparts.

“Things like computer vision are starting to work; speech recognition is starting to work There’s quite a bit of acceleration in the development of AI systems,” says Bart Selman, a Cornell professor and AI ethicist.
Read more here.

Grit



Read more here.

"D" weapons

Spiegel Online writes:
According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money.

During the 20th century, scientists developed so-called ABC weapons -- atomic, biological and chemical. It took decades before their deployment could be regulated and, at least partly, outlawed. New digital weapons have now been developed for the war on the Internet. But there are almost no international conventions or supervisory authorities for these D weapons, and the only law that applies is the survival of the fittest.

The US Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force have already established their own cyber forces, but it is the NSA, also officially a military agency, that is taking the lead. It's no coincidence that the director of the NSA also serves as the head of the US Cyber Command. The country's leading data spy, Admiral Michael Rogers, is also its chief cyber warrior and his close to 40,000 employees are responsible for both digital spying and destructive network attacks.
Read more here.

How secure are we?

Did you know that just as President Obama was giving a big speech on cybersecurity, the jihadists of the Islamic State managed to take over the Twitter and You Tube accounts of the Pentagon's Central Command? The solution being recommended by Obama and the elites of the European Union is to crack down on free speech on the internet. Read more here.

Please go away, or Please stay with us?

Seth Godin has some advice for those big companies whose "service" to customers can best be described as "Please go away!"

What if you had a big blue phone on your desk, and whenever you needed to, you could pick it up and instantly be connected with a smart and caring tech support expert (from your internet provider, your web host, the airline you use the most...)?

What are the chances you'd ever consider switching to a competitor that didn't offer similar service just to save a few bucks?

The current model of big company support is to throw undervalued, undertrained, underpowered human beings at perplexed customers, frustrating and disrespecting them enough that they shrug and give up.

These are the chat rooms staffed by people who merely repeat what's on the website.

The phone trees that bury 'talk to a human' at the very bottom of the options (or hide it altogether).

The reps who are rewarded for a short call and punished for escalating you to someone who can help.

And yes, the email correspondents who send notes from addresses to which you cannot reply.

In industries with drive-by customers, people you'll never see again, customer churn is no big deal. But in businesses where the lifetime value of a customer exceeds $15,000 (I'm thinking cable, phones, travel, banking), it's insane to blow someone off so you can save $17 in customer support isn't it?

How to execute this shift? Start with this: Use the conference call functionality built into every phone to create a team of customer advocates. They can even work from home with a cell phone you provide. Your best customers call an advocate, and then the advocate's job is to start calling internal resources until the problem is solved. Reward advocates not for short calls, but for delighted customers.

Start with six advocates and 600 customers and see what happens. The advocates will get smart, fast, about who to talk with and what to say, they'll start to see what works and what's broken, and they'll work to change the organization into one that keeps score of the right things.

Any customer that walks away, disrespected and defeated, represents tens of thousands of dollars out the door, in addition to the failure of a promise the brand made in the first place. You can't see it but it's happening, daily.

I wonder how these companies would act if every day, someone piled $100,000 in cash in the parking lot and lit it on fire. For many companies, the 'please go away' strategy is more expensive than that.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Unspeakable depravity

Authorities say 22-year-old Hyphernkemberly Dorvilier of Pemberton Township, Burlington County doused her newborn baby with a flammable liquid then set the child on fire in the middle of a road. Read more here.

Not a doctor

The Smoking Gun website has the bizarre story of a 17-year-old black male who wore a white lab coat and stethoscope and masqueraded as a doctor for a month at a Florida hospital.

Atheists will get a big laugh out of this one

Did you read The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven? The boy, who is a paraplegic, and his mother, now are saying that the Heaven part is not true. His mother says that her son
“has not received monies from the book nor have a majority of his needs been funded by it.”

Tyndale’s book contract was only with Kevin, Alex’s father – not with Alex or his mother. Repeated attempts to reach Kevin and Beth Malarkey have not been successful.
There is going to be a whole lot more to this story. Read more here.

Using Hitler's stationery

Doug Ross links to a Miami Herald story about a Jewish American soldier's letters written on Adolph Hitler's stationery. The soldier moved in to one of Hitler's apartments a few days after Hitler committed suicide. The soldier is now 95-years-old.

Serenading the French

Mark Steyn writes:
Under Bush, extrajudicial rendition meant the CIA shipping you overseas to be tortured by the Saudis and Pakistanis. Under Obama, an extrajudicial rendition means shipping fey old folkies to Europe to torture the natives:

Speaking of James Taylor serenading the French under the adoring eyes of hugger John Kerry, Steyn uses his imagination to bring in other performers. Go here to read what songs they performed.

Thanks to Doug Ross

Regime change

Michael Ledeen believes it is time to talk seriously about regime change in Iran and Venezuela. The people of both countries hate the despots who run those countries. Ledeen is not talking about military action; he is talking about political action. Read more here.

If the Saudis can do it...

Investors Business Daily editorializes about Saudi Arabia's effort to build a 600 mile fence to protect its citizens from the Islamic State.
To keep out Islamic State terrorists, the Saudis are building a 600-mile-long barrier — complete with five layers of fencing, underground movement censors and radar cameras — on their northern border.

According to Jane's Defense Weekly, the barrier will be six miles deep with 79 watch towers. Monitoring will include thermal imagers and battlefield radar systems capable of detecting individuals at a distance of 12 miles and vehicles at up to 24 miles. The barrier will be patrolled by border guards and 240 rapid-response vehicles.

Contrast the Saudi fence and border security efforts with our porous border, which recently allowed tens of thousands of "unaccompanied minors" to stream across and routinely allows drug cartels and their "coyotes" to smuggle anyone across for any purpose into the United States.
Read more here.

Horrific!

Remember?



Thanks to Heidi Kutney

Words we are longing to hear

Taking them off the battlefield? I thought he was releasing the Bush detainees in Guantanamo and sending them right back to the Middle East!

Bloggers who write truth in Saudi Arabia


Raif Badawi

The publicity has been all about the killings in France. But what about Raif Badawi, the blogger in Saudia Arabia who has been sentenced to fifty "very severe" lashes per week for the next twenty weeks, then a prison term of ten more years. Why, because he started a blog
to reject any repression in the name of religion… a goal that we will reach in a peaceful, law-abiding way.”

He is alleged to have criticized the Wahhabi clergy who run his country hand in hand with the royal family. Muslims seem not to be able to handle questions, reasoned criticism or satire. …
Read more here.

Was Karl Marx a closet Christian?

Jillian Becker explains how Communism is inspired by Christianity.
What other ideology claims the moral high ground by justifying its every deed by claiming it to be in the service of the weak, the exploited, the injured, the underdog? Or to put it another way, Justification by Compassion?

What other dogma has it that the plight of the collective matters above all? What other teaches that it is it the duty of the individual to sacrifice himself, his personal wants, talents, aspirations to the greater good of the collective?[6]

In what other ideal society is private property abolished – “so that all will be equal in worldly possessions”? Who decries “privilege”? Who holds equality as the highest ideal?

In the name of what political orthodoxy were totalitarian tyrannies established whose spies ceaselessly sniffed out heretics to be tried, imprisoned, tortured and killed?

Where do we find revered texts predicting a cataclysmic event that will change everything, after which the chosen will live happily ever after in a perfect state, under the rule of an all-powerful government, while the rejected will be excluded, condemned, punished, and destroyed?

The answer is Communism, learnt from the unquestionable authority of Karl Marx.

Marxist Communism insists that the only power must be the Communist Party.

It predicts an inevitable Revolution as its all-transforming Apocalypse. After the Revolution the faithful – those whom the Communist Party spares – will live happily ever after in a perfect Communist state.

While Communism posits no divinities, it declares that something superior to man’s will determines what must inevitably happen – an hypostasis named History.

It rejects the notions of a supernatural authority and a non-material existence. But the rest of Marxist Communism’s essential doctrine is derived from only one source – Christianity. Though neither Marx nor any of his apostles seem to have been aware of it.
Read more here.

Romney the Reagan of 2016?

Will Mitt Romney be seen by voters as the Ronald Reagan of 2016? Jim Guirard writes:
Remember, please, that the late, great Gipper's ideological and political identity began in the "New Deal Left" and moved gradually to the center-left, the center, the center-right, the moderate right, and finally to "Mister Conservative" himself. Once a classical liberal Hollywood union boss, Reagan did not become a Republican until age 53 – moving gradually toward the socio-political and foreign policy right, but never to the far right by today's standards.

And notice now that a decade or more ago, a centrist Mitt Romney began his own trek toward the center-right and moderate conservative positions he holds today – realizing as Reagan did that neither the so-called "liberal" nor the left-illiberal (i.e., the Progressive and Socialist) models work well at all, and are in fact destructive of the Life, Liberty and Happiness and the Separation of Powers assurances of our founding documents.
Read more here.

I find this article to be thought-provoking, which is why I excerpted here. However, I think the author is wrong in assuming that the voters who stayed home in 2012 would now come out in support of Romney. On the contrary, I think the "Tea Party" conservatives have only solidified in their opposition to men like Romney.

Give me liberty!

Is it possible to have both liberty and equality? The Atheist Conservative says it is not. Why?
Equality – other than in the eyes of the law – can only be created and maintained by force, so there goes liberty. Leave people free and they will not match each other in accomplishment or anything else.

Where the people are free they are not equal, and where they are equal they are not free.

The Left wants equality. We want liberty.
Read more here.

American media continues to avoid story of jihadist killings in Nigeria

At Ace of Spades:
Boko Haram Kills 2,500, Takes 500 Women and Children as Rape-Prisoners
—Ace

#BringBackOurReportage -- the American media is hostile to this story and simply will not report it, because it would painfully stomp on their preferred #ObamaIsBack storyline.

The destruction is so great that you can see it from orbit-- satellite pictures show 3700 buildings razed to the ground in two towns
Read more here.

Envy-driven

Robert Stacy McCain decides to write about feminism:
Feminism is a formula for unhappiness, an ideology conceived by unhappy women who were unwilling to take responsibility for their own unhappiness. Instead they promoted a false crypto-Marxist worldview in which all men oppress all women. This belief — feminism’s Big Lie — is how unhappy women justify their envy-driven attacks on the actual sources of happiness in other women’s lives.
Read more here.

He cares

Would you be able to do this? A woman in San Diego whose son was killed by a gang member showed up at the young murderer's sentencing, announced that she had forgiven him, asked him to give his life to Jesus Christ, and sang him a gospel hymn entitled "He Cares." Go here to read more and hear her sing.

Thanks to Ann Voskamp

A European landscape


To see more Enchanting European Landscapes Inspired by Brothers Grimm Folk Tales Photographed by Kilian Schönberger, go here.

Thanks to Ann Voskamp

Do I need to organize seniors?

Yesterday I heard a local conservative talk radio host say, "I'd like to see Social Security and Medicare go the way of the dinosaurs." What??? Is this what conservatives believe?

It was the last minute of his show, but I still called to talk with him about his statement. He was still in the studio, but would not talk to me. The call screener gave me his email, and I emailed him asking him to explain his statement. He still has not replied. He is on again this evening. I will call him during his program, if he has not answered my email.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Please care about me!

American voters want to believe that their presidential candidates care about them. That was the main thing lacking in Mitt Romney's candidacy. Jonah Goldberg explains:
But the only poll you need to know about was the exit poll of voters in 2012, which asked, “Which one of these four candidate qualities mattered most in deciding how you voted for president?”

Romney won three out of four. On “shares my values,” Romney won 55 to 42. He won on “is a strong leader” 61 to 38. He took “has a vision for the future” 54 to 45.

But in the category “cares about people like me,” Romney lost by a staggering 63 points (81 to 18).
Read more here.

Snuffing out competition

Gregory Conley writes:
When the success of America’s largest companies is threatened, they often turn to the government for a helping hand. They have been doing that for at least the past century. In recent years Congress gave more than $1 trillion in bailouts to banks, car companies, and credit lenders in the midst of great financial turmoil. But that kind of generosity isn’t the only way Uncle Sam has helped many of America’s biggest companies maintain market share. Using the growing bureaucracy’s powerful regulations, many corporations have worked hand in hand with government to snuff out competition.

A recent example of this offensive is Big Tobacco’s actions against the thousands of small startups that are helping people quit smoking. Cigarette companies are spending millions of dollars to push product bans, higher taxes, and expensive regulations on their competitors.

The cigarettes sold by Reynolds American Inc. and Altria (formerly Philip Morris) are highly taxed and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and over the past several years cigarette consumption has declined more rapidly than forecast by analysts and shareholders. Electronic cigarettes (“e-cigs,” or “vapor products”) have accounted for a significant portion of this reduction. These battery-operated and smokeless devices represent a free-market solution to a grave public-health problem. As alternatives to cigarettes, which kill more than 400,000 people each year, vapor products are far less hazardous.

In this excellent article Conley explains the difference between "cigalikes" developed by big tobacco companies such as Reynolds and Altria, and premium vapor products (PVs).
Reynolds also has urged the FDA to ban all PV and e-liquid products as well as most flavored vapor products. That’s right. A company that made $4.6 billion in profits in 2013, selling products that cause cancer, illness, and disease, asked the FDA to ban the products that are both preferred by consumers and proven to help people quit smoking.

In Big Tobacco’s war on these innovative technology products, it’s not just adult smokers and ex-smokers who will suffer at the hands of misguided regulators and lawmakers. Most of the sales in the $1.5 billion vapor product market are taking place in the more than 5,000 specialty retail outlets (“vape shops”) across the country. These new businesses are occupying what may otherwise be empty storefronts. They are also providing local jobs, paying sales and income taxes, and improving communities by helping reduce the toll from smoking.

Reynolds’s push for more-coercive taxation, burdensome regulations, and even bans on their competitors make sense, as no company wants to see its consumers switch to products it doesn’t sell. Unfortunately, if the FDA and state lawmakers merely accept the agenda being pushed by Reynolds and other large cigarette companies, public health and market freedom will suffer. It’s time lawmakers and bureaucrats realize this and stop trying to protect cigarette companies from consumer choice.
Read more here.